Misinformation about the coronavirus in Africa spreads as quickly as new cases emerge (Photo credit: AFP/ Luis Tato)

Fighting myths about coronavirus in Africa

Like elsewhere across the globe, misinformation about the novel coronavirus in Africa spreads quickly online as the pandemic progresses. AFP Fact Check has been debunking false claims around the continent.

Below is a list of all our English-language fact-checks in Africa so far (find the French ones here):

(Updated 26 May 2020)

122. Madagascan president has not called on African states to quit WHO

Facebook posts shared hundreds of times claim that Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina called on African nations to leave the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the leader has criticised the agency for warning against a herbal remedy he recommends to treat COVID-19, AFP Fact Check found no public record of him making such a statement. The Madagascan presidency has also rejected the claim.

25 May 2020

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121. Image of Bill Gates in cuffs is doctored photo of a 2014 mobster arrest

Multiple posts shared with a picture of a hand-cuffed Bill Gates being led away by FBI agents allege the US billionaire has been arrested for biological terrorism. This is false; the image is doctored and actually shows the  2015 arrest of New York mobster Vincent Asaro. The report was first published by a satirical website but was reproduced elsewhere as real news.

22 May 2020

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120. Nigeria imposed a curfew to slow the spread of COVID-19 and has not yet set up 5G networks

A post shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims that the Nigerian presidency imposed a curfew to allow Chinese companies to build 5G masts. This is false; the curfew is aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Authorities say 5G licences have not been issued to any firms in Nigeria -- Chinese or otherwise. 

21 May 2020

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119. Experts say freediver’s video about masks contains misleading claims

A video shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook features a freediving champion who claims that masks don't offer protection from the novel coronavirus and that the moisture created by breathing into a mask actually offers a fertile environment for the virus. However, experts told AFP that the video makes several misleading assumptions.

21 May 2020

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118. This video shows an annual Hindu ritual and has nothing to do with coronavirus

A video viewed thousands of times on Facebook posts claims to show Indians throwing statues of their gods into a river after they allegedly failed to protect them from the new coronavirus. The claim is false; the clip dates back to at least September 2015, years before the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows a ritual during the closure of a religious festival dedicated to the Hindu god Ganesh.

21 May 2020

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117. There is no evidence Madagascan president said WHO offered bribe to poison COVID-19 remedy

Articles in two Tanzanian newspapers claim that Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of offering a $20 million bribe to poison a herbal tea remedy he hails as a COVID-19 cure. However, there is no evidence Rajoelina made such comments and a spokesman for the Madagascan presidency flatly denied the claims. 

20 May 2020

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116. French scientist Didier Raoult did not state COVID-19 was created to kill Africans

Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim that French microbiologist Didier Raoult – who has promoted malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 – has revealed that the disease was deliberately created by the US and China to kill Africans. However, there is no record of Raoult making such a statement and his office flatly rejected the claim. Scientists believe the virus emerged from a natural source.

20 May 2020

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115. Bill Gates, bogeyman of virus conspiracy theorists

False claims targeting billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates are gaining traction online since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, with experts warning they could hamper efforts to curb the virus.

19 May 2020

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114. Prolonged use of face masks unlikely to cause hypercapnia

Facebook posts shared hundreds of times in South Africa claim that wearing a face mask for a prolonged period can cause hypercapnia, a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. However, health experts told AFP Fact Check that a well-made mask is unlikely to cause the condition.

18 May 2020

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113. TV report shows an unrelated Guinea incident predating COVID-19 outbreak

A YouTube video shared thousands of times claims that two children died from a novel coronavirus vaccine in Guinea. The claim is false; the video misrepresents a news report on children who fell ill in March 2019 after taking anti-parasite drugs. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.

15 May 2020

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112. Using face masks does not cause hypoxia

Posts on Facebook claim that prolonged use of face masks causes hypoxia -- a lack of oxygen in the body. The claim, however, is false; as long as they are worn properly, the commonly used piece of personal protective equipment does not block the path of oxygen, experts say.

14 May 2020

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111. ‘Plandemic’ video peddles falsehoods about COVID-19

“Plandemic” -- a slickly-edited, 26-minute interview with a discredited researcher -- has been widely shared on social media. But the video, which YouTube and Facebook are working to remove for violating content standards, contains multiple false or misleading claims, including about the novel coronavirus, experts say.

12 May 2020

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110. Doctored photo is latest attack on Bill Gates amid COVID-19 vaccine push

Social media users have shared a photo that claims to show a “Center for Global Human Population Reduction” affiliated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The image, however, has been manipulated. The stone signage it captures is the foundation’s Discovery Center in Seattle, which is not home to a depopulation effort, nor are the Microsoft co-founder and his wife behind any such initiative.

6 May 2020

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109. The emir's funeral was conducted privately, unlike this footage from another burial

A video viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts claims to show a crowd surrounding, and attempting to touch, the remains of the Emir of Rano, a Nigerian traditional ruler who died on Saturday. However, authorities say the video is “fake” and that the emir was buried in a private ceremony. 

6 May 2020

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108. This fabricated headline was added to a screenshot of a CNN interview

A photo shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims to show the American cable news channel CNN describing cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria as “false”, accusing the government of making them up to embezzle public funds. This is false: The image, taken from a CNN interview of New York's mayor, has been doctored and the false headline added to it. 

6 May 2020

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107. This video of Boris Johnson has circulated in media reports since August 2018

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alongside a claim it shows UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson offering cups of tea to journalists after recovering from an illness. The posts were shared shortly after Johnson returned to work following hospital treatment for COVID-19. The claim in the social media posts is false; this video has circulated in media reports since August 2018, more than one year before the coronavirus pandemic and before Johnson became prime minister.

6 May 2020

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106. African mistrust of Western vaccines threatens coronavirus fight

The race to find  a vaccine for the novel coronavirus faces an uphill struggle in Africa, where a flood of online misinformation is feeding on historical mistrust of Western medical research.

5 May 2020

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105. This video shows a flypast rehearsal for South Africa's 2019 presidential inauguration

A video shared thousands of times on Facebook purports to show a farewell flypast in honour of South African Airways (SAA), the country’s bankrupt national carrier. The footage, however, was taken last year during a rehearsal in preparation for the presidential inauguration.

4 May 2020

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104. Misleading mask graphic claims to show exact chance of COVID-19 spread

Graphics shared thousands of times on social media claim to show the exact probability of COVID-19 carriers spreading the disease if they or another person wears a mask. The claim is misleading; experts say that while masks do decrease the risk, there is no reliable information on the specific chance of transmission.

1 May 2020

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103. These are test kits made in South Korea, not a 'cure' for COVID-19

Multiple posts shared thousands of times on Facebook claim that the United States has found a cure for the novel coronavirus. This is false; the pictures being shared are of rapid test kits made in South Korea, while the hunt for a cure continues.

30 April 2020

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102. Guinea has not ordered the arrest of all Chinese nationals

A video of a man rebuking foreigners has been viewed thousands of times on social media alongside a claim that the Guinean government has ordered the arrest of all Chinese nationals in the country while awaiting the safe return of Guineans from China. However, the video was actually recorded last year before the pandemic, and the Guinean government has not issued any such order.

30 April 2020

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101. This may not be the best time to visit a hair salon – but there is no proof they have caused almost half of coronavirus deaths

Posts shared hundreds of times on WhatsApp and Facebook claim that hair salons are responsible for almost 50 percent of all coronavirus deaths. There is no evidence to support the claim, which has been ascribed to a non-existent US health chief.

30 April 2020

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100. Viral videos of Africans attacked in China were filmed years ago

Videos showing black people being attacked by Asian people have been shared thousands of times online in recent weeks. Although Africans living in China have reported discrimination linked to the coronavirus pandemic, AFP Fact Check found that various widely-shared clips were filmed years ago and have nothing to do with the virus.

28 April 2020

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99. Britain’s first coronavirus vaccine volunteer has not died after trial jab

An online report shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter claims that one of Britain’s first volunteers to be injected with a trial coronavirus vaccine has died. However, the claim is false, originating from a website with a history of spreading misinformation. The volunteer, herself, has dismissed the report, which was also denied by UK health officials and the scientists behind the trial. 

28 April 2020

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98. Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo refutes 'false' quote attributed to him about the novel coronavirus

Multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and on various websites have shared a purported quote about the novel coronavirus from Japanese physician Tasuku Honjo, the 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The posts, shared thousands of times, quote Dr Honjo as stating that the virus is “not natural” and was “manufactured in China”, as well as stating he previously worked at a laboratory in Chinese city of Wuhan for four years. The claim is misleading; Dr Honjo said he never made the purported comments, dismissing the posts as “misinformation”; his biography on the Kyoto University website shows he has never held a position at a laboratory in China. 

28 April 2020

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97. This photo shows Australia’s Bondi Beach in 2013

A photograph circulating on Facebook purports to be a screenshot from a TV news report showing a crowded beach in South Africa during the lockdown. The claim is false; the image has been doctored and actually shows Australia’s Bondi beach in 2013.

27 April 2020

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96. This video shows FBI agents seizing masks from alleged price gouger

A video with thousands of shares and more than 1.5 million views on Facebook claims to show FBI agents seizing masks infected with the novel coronavirus. The claim is false; the clip shows a raid on the home of a man in New York arrested for allegedly coughing on FBI agents while claiming to have COVID-19 and lying to them about hoarding and selling medical supplies.

24 April 2020

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95. This video shows landmarks across China, but not Wuhan

A video featuring aerial shots of futuristic skyscrapers, giant bridges and other landmarks has been shared thousands of times on Facebook with claims that it shows Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the novel coronavirus pandemic emerged in December 2019. However, AFP found the video is a compilation of shots from various Chinese cities but not Wuhan. 

24 April 2020

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94. This looting took place in Mexico in 2014

A post shared on Facebook purports to show people looting a store in England. The claim is false; it actually shows looting that took place at a resort in Mexico in 2014 after Hurricane Odile ravaged Cabo San Lucas.

23 April 2020

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93. South Africa’s education department says the 2020 school year can still be saved

Social media posts shared in South Africa claim that children in grades 1 to 11 will be promoted after the school year was cancelled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The claims are false and started circulating after an education expert called for an end to the academic year, an idea rejected by the Department of Basic Education.

22 April 2020

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92. Online coronavirus scams spread in Nigeria amid lockdowns

African countries including Nigeria are experiencing an increase in the number of fraudulent activities on social media as internet fraudsters embark on scamming sprees amid the coronavirus pandemic. AFP Fact Check has rounded up some of the most popular online claims fabricated to exploit unsuspecting internet users in the continent.

22 April 2020

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91. 5G deal between UK and Chinese tech company Huawei has not been cancelled

Multiple posts on social media in Nigeria claim that the United Kingdom terminated a deal with Chinese tech company Huawei after receiving contaminated coronavirus test kits. This is false; the UK has made no such move while the tainted test kits came from Luxembourg.

22 April 2020

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90. The World Bank did not praise Tanzania’s anti-coronavirus policies

Articles claiming the World Bank has applauded Tanzania’s anti-coronavirus policies have been widely shared, with one attracting thousands of interactions on Facebook. The publications claim the East African country was singled out for praise in a report for implementing “unique policies” in the fight against the novel coronavirus. But the report does not include any such mention and the World Bank has denied specifically highlighting Tanzania’s COVID-19 response.

21 April 2020

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89. The Chinese donation consisted of general medical supplies to help fight COVID-19

A post shared on Facebook and WhatsApp claims that China has sent COVID-19 vaccines to Burundi. The claim is false; China did donate medical supplies to the eastern African nation, but not vaccines, which do not exist yet for the disease.

21 April 2020

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88. Kenya governor quotes non-existent WHO research to defend alcohol donations

A video of Nairobi governor Mike Sonko claiming the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends drinking alcohol to help prevent the new coronavirus is circulating online. The claim is false; the WHO has, in fact, warned the public against excessive alcohol consumption during the pandemic.

20 April 2020

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87. This photo does not show throat infected with novel coronavirus

A photo shared thousands of times on Facebook claims to show the throat of a novel coronavirus patient. The claim is false; the image has circulated online since May of 2018, long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

20 April 2020

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86. Myth spreads online that Australian supermarkets have banned Chinese nationals during COVID-19 pandemic

A video that shows an argument between shoppers at an Australian department store has been viewed tens of thousands of times in Facebook and Twitter posts alongside a claim that Chinese nationals have been banned from supermarkets in Australia. The claim is false; major Australian supermarket chains told AFP there was no policy that bans Chinese people from their stores as of April 2020; the video in the misleading posts has circulated in media reports about a dispute in an Australian supermarket over baby formula.

20 April 2020

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85. This footage was taken during an electoral campaign months before the pandemic

A video shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram purports to show hundreds of Nigerians scrambling for food amid a lockdown prompted by the novel coronavirus. However, the footage has been circulating on social media since at least March 2019, months before the start of the pandemic.

17 April 2020

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84. This is an old picture taken before the pandemic

A widely shared picture purports to show food earmarked for distribution to families in Rwanda ahead of a coronavirus lockdown. This is false; the image has been circulating online since at least May 2019. Former World Bank chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was among those who fell for the hoax, sharing the photo with her 1.1 million Twitter followers. 

17 April 2020

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83. These images show delivery of Chinese medical supplies in Ghana

Multiple posts with pictures of an aircraft delivering supplies claim to show the delivery of coronavirus vaccines from China to a Nigerian airport. This is false; the images were taken in Accra, Ghana, and show Chinese aid deliveries of medical supplies to 18 African countries -- including Nigeria.

16 April 2020

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82. This video was filmed in New York, not China

After the African Union expressed concerns about discrimination against Africans in Guangzhou, a video started circulating on Facebook and Twitter that purports to show a Kenyan couple involved in a fist fight with a Chinese couple in Wuhan. This claim is false: The video was in fact filmed in the Bronx district of New York in front of an Asian restaurant.

16 April 2020

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81. South Sudan's chief justice and his family tested negative for COVID-19

A WhatsApp message circulating in South Sudan claims the chief justice’s son is critically ill with COVID-19. However, the health ministry said the senior official and his family tested negative for the disease, and his daughter told AFP he doesn’t have a son going by the name quoted in social media posts.

15 April 2020

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80. Nigeria’s ex-vice president didn't promise to pay citizens to stay home during virus outbreak

An article shared thousands of times in multiple social media posts in Nigeria claims former vice president Atiku Abubakar pledged to pay 10,000 naira ($27) to every Nigerian to help them through the novel coronavirus pandemic. The claim is false; Abubakar's spokesman rejected it as "fake news" and the story originated from a website with a history of spreading misinformation.

15 April 2020

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79. False claim: Beijing and Shanghai are untouched by COVID-19

A claim that the novel coronavirus was never detected in the major Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai has been shared repeatedly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The claim is false; both Beijing and Shanghai, China’s two most populous cities, have reported confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths since January 2020.

13 April 2020

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78. This video shows a Brazil carnival in 2018, not a party in Italy

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts shared thousands of times show a video of crowds at a music event. Comments say the footage shows the “last gay conference” in Italy before the coronavirus outbreak. The clip is actually from a carnival in Brazil in February 2018, two years before Italy’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.

13 April 2020

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77. How to spot COVID-19 misinformation on WhatsApp

AFP has debunked multiple claims shared millions of times on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease in December 2019. But with over 65 billion messages sent worldwide every day, WhatsApp, one of the biggest platforms for sharing misinformation in Africa, remains a challenge. AFP fact checkers explain how you can spot false COVID-19 claims on WhatsApp.

10 April 2020

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76. South Africa leader did not ask foreigners to leave the country due to COVID-19

Dozens of posts shared hundreds of times on Facebook and WhatsApp claim that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told foreigners to leave the country to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus. The claim is false; he has made no such announcement and the Department of Home Affairs refuted the claim.

10 April 2020

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75. Claim Nigeria spent 1 billion naira on COVID-19 text messages came from fabricated tweet

A screenshot of a web publication has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that claim the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said it spent a billion naira ($2.78 million) on COVID-19 text message awareness campaign. However, this is false; the claim stemmed from a fabricated tweet, and was denied by Nigeria’s health authorities.

10 April 2020

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74. This is a photo of a waste management officer that's been circulating since 2018

A photograph has been shared hundreds of times in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts with claims that it shows Nigerian movie star Funke Akindele Bello picking up waste in the street as a punishment for throwing a party during the COVID-19 lockdown. The claim is false; the photo was first published online long before the pandemic and shows a waste management officer.

10 April 2020

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73. This is an old video showing police officers in Ghana

A video showing law enforcement officers beating civilians is being shared on Facebook and WhatsApp in Nigeria, with claims that it shows Nigerian soldiers beating citizens while enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown in the country. This is false; the video is old and shows police officers carrying out a beating in Ghana.

9 April 2020

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72. French doctor did not urge Africans to avoid a “Bill Gates vaccine”

A post shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims that Didier Raoult, a French specialist in infectious diseases, is urging Africans “not to take Bill Gates vaccine” against coronavirus as it contains “poison”. This is false: the institute which Raoult directs denied he ever made these claims; moreover, no vaccine yet exists against coronavirus.

9 April 2020

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71. This video was shot in Azerbaijan in October 2019 during an anti-government protest

A video viewed thousands of times in Nigeria and shared in multiple Facebook posts claims to show police in Spain rounding up people aged 50 and above to transfer them to quarantine centers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The claim is false; the footage was circulating months before the outbreak and actually shows police in Azerbaijan detaining anti-government protesters in the capital Baku.

8 April 2020

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70. This video was edited to make it look like South Africa’s leader announced an 81-day lockdown

Video posts viewed thousands of times purport to show South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing an alleged 81-day lockdown. But the video has been edited to change the context of an earlier speech he made during a national news broadcast. The TV channel which aired the original segment has refuted the doctored video and there have been no official announcements from the presidency to extend the ongoing 21-day lockdown set to end on April 16, 2020.

8 April 2020

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69. This photo has circulated in reports about an Irish teenager who died in 2017

A photo of a young boy has been shared repeatedly on Facebook, Twitter and various websites alongside a claim that it shows a 13-year-old who died after contracting the novel coronavirus in the UK in 2020. The claim is false; the photograph has circulated in reports since 2017 about a teenager who died in Ireland.

8 April 2020

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68. South African hospital group rejects claim that lab found COVID-19 on fresh produce

Posts shared on Facebook and WhatsApp claim a South African hospital found that traces of the novel coronavirus had survived on the surface of fresh food items for 12 hours during lab tests. The claim is false and was dismissed by the hospital’s owners Netcare, which denies even having a laboratory at the facility in question.

7 April 2020

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67. No, these videos do not show recent looting in South Africa

Facebook posts shared thousands of times recommend various practices to prevent COVID-19, including gargling salt water, drinking tea and avoiding ice cream. Health experts told AFP there is no evidence to support these claims and say washing your hands regularly is the best way to stay healthy.

7 April 2020

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66. Experts dismiss claims that 5G wireless technology created the novel coronavirus

Numerous conspiracy theories shared on and off social media claim that 5G mobile networks are the cause of the novel coronavirus pandemic. This is false; experts told AFP that 5G is based on radio frequency and that this does not create viruses.

7 April 2020

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65. This is an AFP photo shot in 2006 during an unrelated incident

An image has been shared multiple times on Facebook in Liberia in support of a claim that pastors were beaten for defying government restrictions on religious gatherings amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. Although a police crackdown on churches took place, the use of the picture in this context is false as it was shot years ago at an unrelated event.

7 April 2020

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64. These photos have circulated online since at least March 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic

Two photos showing notes scattered on a street have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook and YouTube alongside a claim they were taken in Italy during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The posts claim Italians have thrown money out of their homes in a symbolic gesture to highlight that money is futile during the pandemic. The claim is false; the photos have circulated online since at least March 2019 in reports about two separate incidents in Venezuela.

7 April 2020

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63. The video has been doctored and predates COVID-19 by several years

A Sudanese Facebook post shared thousands of times claims to show a video of a newborn advising people to drink sugar-free tea to ward off the novel coronavirus. However, the video has been dubbed over with a fake voice and is at least four years old.

6 April 2020

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62. This CNN broadcast has been doctored, Nigerian leader did not test positive for coronavirus

An image of a purported CNN broadcast shared thousands of times in multiple social media posts claims Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and his chief of staff Abba Kyari tested positive for the novel coronavirus. But while Kyari has indeed tested positive for the virus, there is no evidence to support the claim that Buhari was infected with COVID-19. The picture of the alleged broadcast was fabricated using another screenshot of a CNN show.

6 April 2020

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61. Facebook posts falsely claim the US arrested a Chinese scientist who “created” coronavirus

Facebook posts shared thousands of times feature a video of US officials talking to reporters, with captions claiming they are announcing the arrest of a Chinese scientist who “created” the new coronavirus. However, the footage has nothing to do with COVID-19 and scientists have refuted allegations the virus was deliberately created.

3 April 2020

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60. False claims that Nigeria is coronavirus-free circulate online

Posts shared thousands of times on Facebook in Canada claim that Nigeria was free of the novel coronavirus as early as March 2020. This is false; data from the World Health Organization and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) show that new cases have been reported every week in Nigeria since February 27. 

3 April 2020

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59. Ethiopia has not approved traditional medicine to treat COVID-19

An article shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims that the Ethiopian government has approved a traditional medicine treatment for COVID-19 after successful clinical trials on animals and humans. However, the Ministry of Health denied the claims and Capital Ethiopia, which published the story, has corrected its Facebook post.

3 April 2020

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58. South African government denies asking landlords to stop collecting rent because of COVID-19

A notice shared on multiple social media platforms claims that South Africa’s president has prohibited landlords from collecting rent for three months in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, the government has made no such announcement and has rejected the claim as false.

2 April 2020

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57. Health authorities warn of false COVID-19 prevention tips online

Facebook posts shared thousands of times recommend various practices to prevent COVID-19, including gargling salt water, drinking tea and avoiding ice cream. Health experts told AFP there is no evidence to support these claims and say washing your hands regularly is the best way to stay healthy.

2 April 2020

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56. This clip is a scene from the 2007 US television series Pandemic

A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook which claim it shows bodies of novel coronavirus victims being thrown into a ditch in Italy. The claim is false; the footage was taken from the 2007 US television programme Pandemic.

1 April 2020

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55. Nigeria denies setting aside special coronavirus cash aid for citizens

A story shared hundreds of times in multiple social media posts in Nigeria claims the country announced a 30,000 naira ($83) relief payout for citizens to help them through the novel coronavirus pandemic. But the claim is false; the government denied making any announcement of the sort, while the author of the story admitted he got it wrong.

1 April 2020

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54. Police dismissed the claims as a hoax, which were based on an old story

Multiple articles widely shared on Facebook claim that 59 church members died after drinking household disinfectant which their pastor said would prevent coronavirus infections. The claims, although based on an old story, are false -- South African police denied any current investigations on their part.

1 April 2020

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53. Buckingham Palace did not say the Queen tested positive for coronavirus

Multiple news reports circulating in Nigeria claim that Buckingham Palace has announced Britain’s Queen Elizabeth tested positive for COVID-19. Although the Queen’s eldest son was diagnosed with the disease, the Palace said the monarch herself is “in good health”.

31 March 2020

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52. No evidence drinking tea can cure or relieve symptoms of COVID-19, doctors say

A post shared repeatedly on WhatsApp and Facebook claims a Chinese doctor has discovered that drinking tea is effective in curing and relieving symptoms of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The claim is false; health experts say there is insufficient scientific evidence to show that drinking tea is effective in preventing or curing COVID-19 infections; as of March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is no cure for COVID-19.

30 March 2020

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51. Reopening date for South Africa’s schools has not been announced

Multiple posts on social media claim that schools in South Africa will reopen months from now in September, as a result of the increase in COVID-19 cases. The claims are false; the Department of Basic Education has not made any such announcement and refuted the claims.

29 March 2020

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50. This footage of looting was filmed years before the pandemic

Footage purportedly showing a looting spree in Mexico prompted by panic over the novel coronavirus was aired on multiple Facebook live streams and viewed by tens of thousands of people during the week of March 23, 2020. Posts sharing the streams claimed that the chaotic scene was happening in real-time. The claim is false; the streams showed old footage from a 2017 looting incident in Mexico that was being played on a loop.

27 March 2020

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49. Image shows Brazil’s president crying, not Italy’s prime minister

A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts alongside the claim that it shows Italy’s prime minister crying over the toll of the novel coronavirus epidemic. The claim is false; the photo shows Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro getting emotional during a Thanksgiving speech. 

27 March 2020

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48. Experts say eating garlic does not prevent COVID-19 -- and onions are no cure either

Multiple videos seen tens of thousands of times on Facebook claim garlic and onions can prevent and cure infection from novel coronavirus. This is false; the World Health Organization says garlic cannot prevent or treat COVID-19.

27 March 2020

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47. Nigeria is not paying citizens for staying at home amidst coronavirus pandemic

A web publication shared hundreds of times on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp in Nigeria claims the government will pay each citizen 8,500 naira ($23.60) monthly to encourage Nigerians to stay at home in a bid to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus. But the claim is false; officials have dismissed the claim, and the author of the viral publication admitted it was incorrect. 

27 March 2020

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46. These photos show the coffins of victims of a boat disaster in 2013

Photographs shared hundreds of times online purport to show the coffins of Italian victims of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The claim is false; the pictures date back to October 2013 when hundreds drowned in a boat tragedy in the Mediterranean. 

27 March 2020

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45. This photo shows coffins for dead migrants after a boat capsized off the coast of Italy in 2013

A photo of a room lined with coffins has been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts that claim it shows Italian nationals killed during the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The claim is false; the photo actually shows coffins for a group of dead migrants at an Italian airport in October 2013 after their boat sank off the coast of Italy.

26 March 2020

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44. An old photo of Buhari from before the pandemic was doctored to add face masks

A photo circulating on Facebook in Nigeria appears to show President Muhammadu Buhari shaking hands with the nation’s Code of Conduct Bureau Chairman Mohammed Isa while both men are wearing face masks — a seeming flouting of precautions during the novel coronavirus pandemic. This is not what happened. The image was doctored using an old photo, taken long before the pandemic.

25 March 2020

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43. Video shows Zimbabwe police beating opposition members, not churchgoers defying virus rules

A video shared thousands of times on Facebook claims to show police in Zimbabwe beating churchgoers because their place of worship refused to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The claims are false; the video was filmed before the virus outbreak. It shows opposition supporters being dispersed after gathering to hear their leader.

24 March 2020

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42. The video shows an Islamic conversion in Saudi Arabia in May 2019 – months before the novel coronavirus outbreak

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube alongside a claim it shows Chinese people converting to Islam because the novel coronavirus epidemic does not affect Muslims. The claim is false: the video shows people converting to Islam in Saudi Arabia in May 2019, more than half year away before the novel coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China in late 2019.

24 March 2020

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41. Viral WhatsApp voice note in Nigeria makes misleading claims about COVID-19 fatalities projections

A viral WhatsApp voice note in Nigeria claims that the coronavirus could kill up to 45 million Nigerians. This is misleading, as data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) shows. The message makes several other false claims, which we debunk here.

24 March 2020

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40. Ugandan and Kenyan authorities reject claims that they told landlords to stop rent collection

Posts circulating on social media claim that Ugandan and Kenyan authorities have instructed landlords to stop collecting rent due to the novel coronavirus. The claim is false; the countries have issued public guidance amid the pandemic, but there has been no official communication on rent payments and government officials dismissed the reports.

24 March 2020

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39. This video shows a security exercise simulating a hostage-taking at Dakar airport

A video purporting to show panic-stricken travellers infected with the novel coronavirus at an airport in Senegal has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. However, these images are actually taken from a security exercise simulating a hostage-taking at Dakar airport in November 2019.

23 March 2020

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38. Gargling warm salt water or vinegar does not prevent coronavirus infection, health experts say

A graphic has been shared thousands of times on Facebook which claims that gargling warm water with salt or vinegar can eliminate the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The claim is false; international health authorities and experts do not list gargling as an effective remedy or prevention method for COVID-19.

23 March 2020

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37. There is no evidence to support the claim that Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo tested positive for the novel coronavirus

A story that has been shared thousands of times in social media posts claims Ghana’s president and a senior minister had tested positive for COVID-19. But the claim is false;  there is no evidence to support the allegation and Ghana’s information minister has dismissed it.

20 March 2020

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36. Major disease outbreaks are not tied to US election years

Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim US election years coincide with major disease outbreaks. These claims are misleading; several years of discovery or the associated spread of a disease do not match election years, national and international health organizations said.

20 March 2020

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35. Scientists in Israel are still working on developing a vaccine for COVID-19

An image shared thousands of times on Facebook purports to be evidence that Israel has developed a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. The claim is misleading; the image used to illustrate a vial of the new drug is originally a stock picture while the MIGAL Research Institute in Israel, despite having a head start,  continues to work on a vaccine for COVID-19.

March 20, 2020

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34. False posts claim COVID-19 existed before 2019, use animal vaccines as proof

Facebook posts claim that the novel coronavirus is not a new disease, showing photos of vials of coronavirus vaccines for animals as evidence. This is false; coronaviruses affecting cattle or canines differ from the new virus strain affecting humans, for which no vaccine exists.

19 March 2020

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33. South African health authorities urge public not to share hotline graphics with false information

Graphics displaying Department of Health logos with the COVID-19 hotline number for South Africa have been shared thousands of times on social media. While the toll-free number is correct, the information that follows is false, according to health authorities.

19 March 2020​

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32. Ugandan president has not announced elections postponement; officials dismiss claim

An article claiming Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has postponed next year’s general election to 2023 because of the global coronavirus spread has been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts. The claim is false; an electoral commission official labelled it “nonsensical”.

18 March 2020

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31. Hoax report claims Cristiano Ronaldo will convert his hotels into coronavirus hospitals

(Cristiano Ronaldo arrives onstage to deliver a speech during the official inauguration of the the Pestana CR7 Lisbon Hotel in Lisbon on October 2, 2016. (AFP / Patricia De Melo Moreira))

A claim that footballer Cristiano Ronaldo plans to turn his hotels in Portugal into hospitals for COVID-19 patients has been shared tens of thousands of times in multiple languages on various social media platforms. A spokesperson for the hotels said the claim was “inaccurate”; Ronaldo has also not mentioned any such plan on his social media platforms.

17 March 2020

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30. South African schools close on March 19

A notice widely shared on WhatsApp claims that all schools in South Africa would close on Monday, March 16, 2020. This is false: The last day of school was Wednesday, March 18, as announced by South Africa’s Department of Basic Education.

16 March 2020

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29. There have been no deaths from the novel coronavirus in South Africa (as of March 12, 2020)

An article shared thousands of times on Facebook claims a family of three died from the new coronavirus at a hospital in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. The claim is false; there have been no deaths from the novel coronavirus in South Africa as of March 12, 2020. When the misleading article was published, there were zero confirmed cases in the province; as of March 12, there was one.

12 March 2020 

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28. Claim that drinking water with lemon can prevent COVID-19 is false

(A woman with a face mask in Bangkok (AFP / Mladen Antonov))

A text shared thousands of times on Facebook in various countries claims that drinking warm water with lemon protects against the novel coronavirus. But experts told AFP there’s no proof this is effective in preventing the disease and that practising good hygiene is the best way to stay healthy. The posts also include several other false claims.

12 March 2020

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27. WHO refutes viral claims that holding your breath can test for COVID-19

(Tourists wearing protective masks in Paris (AFP / stringer))

Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim that holding your breath for more than 10 seconds is an effective test for the novel coronavirus, and that drinking water regularly can prevent the disease. The claims are false; the World Health Organization and other experts said there was no evidence to support these claims.

11 March 2020

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26. There is no known cure for the novel coronavirus and the patient has not yet been officially cleared

An article shared thousands of times claims that a South African patient infected with COVID-19 was cured. This is misleading: there is currently no known cure for the disease and resultantly any infected patient’s return to health should be described as a recovery. Moreover, the patient in question has not yet been officially cleared.

11 March 2020

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25. Health experts say drinking water every 15 minutes does not prevent coronavirus infection

(Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 lowers his mask to drink water during a press conference about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in Beijing on February 24, 2020. (AFP / Matthew Knight))

Multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter shared hundreds of times claim that doctors in Japan advise people to drink water every 15 minutes in order to prevent being infected by the novel coronavirus, COVD-19. The claim is misleading; the World Health Organization (WHO) says drinking water does not prevent novel coronavirus infection; Japan has not issued a health advisory listing drinking water as a prevention method for COVID-19.

9 March 2020

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24. Chloroquine has not been approved as a treatment for COVID-19 by leading international health experts

(Clinical trials into chloroquine as a coronavirus treatment are still ongoing (Photo credit: Gerard Julien/ AFP))

A WhatsApp voice message circulating in Nigeria claims that anti-malaria drug chloroquine phosphate is a cure for COVID-19. This is misleading: while a study found the molecule showed “apparent efficacy” in treating the disease, trials are still ongoing. Experts also warned against taking the drug without prescription. British officials have opened a probe into an illegal website selling the drug, following AFP's investigation.

9 March 2020

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23. This report is not from a genuine news site -- the Vatican said the pope was suffering from a cold

A widely shared report on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit in February 2020 claims the Vatican disclosed that Pope Francis had been infected with the novel coronavirus. The claim is false; the Vatican said Pope Francis recently fell ill with a common cold; the site that published the misleading claim is not a reputable media organisation.

6 March 2020

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22. An image from The Simpsons was digitally altered to make it look like it predicted the novel coronavirus

A series of screenshots from The Simpsons have been circulating online alongside claims that the TV show predicted the novel coronavirus outbreak. The claim is false; the montage features shots from two different episodes, one of which has been digitally altered to include the words “corona virus”.

5 March 2020

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21. US disease experts did not issue novel coronavirus-related facial hair guide

US media reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued facial hair recommendations for novel coronavirus prevention, citing an infographic. This is misleading; the graphic about facial hair and respirator use is more than two years old and is unrelated to the recent deadly outbreak.

4 March 2020

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20. The story originated from a parody account; no driver is threatening to spread COVID-19 across Nigeria

Multiple posts shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp claim a Nigerian cab driver  contracted the coronavirus from an Italian passenger and went on the run, demanding N100 million ($275,000) from the government. This is false; the story originated from a parody account and has been denied by the man pictured in the claim and government officials. The actual driver has reportedly been quarantined.

3 March 2020

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19. This image shows a Nigerian actor who died in 2017 -- not the pastor who ‘went to China to destroy coronavirus’

Thousands of Facebook users have shared a picture of a man hooked up to a dialysis machine alongside claims that he is a Nigerian pastor who travelled to China to “destroy coronavirus” and was hospitalised. This is false; the man in the picture is a Nigerian actor who died due to renal failure in 2017.

3 March 2020

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18. Anti-malaria drug has proven effective in treating coronavirus but has not cured 12,552 patients

A report in Nigeria claims that anti-malaria drug chloroquine has cured 12,552 novel coronavirus patients. This is misleading; the China National Center for Biotechnology Development confirmed the drug has “a certain curative effect on the novel coronavirus”, but did not say it cured 12,552 patients. The drug has only been used in clinical trials with “over 100 patients”.

21 February 2020

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17. No cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Zimbabwe as of February 20, 2020

Articles shared hundreds of times on Facebook claim that Zimbabwe has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus. The reports were misleading; no confirmed cases had been recorded as of February 20, 2020. A suspected patient was admitted to hospital but tested negative for the virus.

20 February 2020

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16. This video was filmed before the novel coronavirus outbreak

A video shared hundreds of times on social media purports to show people running from a Chinese man who collapsed in Mauritania. The claim is false; the footage was shared online months before the start of the epidemic.

19 February 2020

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15. There are no known deaths or confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria as of February 18, 2020

An article shared in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter claims Lagos has seen nine confirmed coronavirus cases, including four deaths. But the claim is false; health officials told AFP there were no confirmed deaths or cases in the country as of February 18, 2020. The story was fabricated from recent reports on a Lassa Fever outbreak in central Nigeria. 

18 February 2020

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14. A Sudanese minister did not wear a mask to meet a Chinese diplomat

A photograph shared hundreds of times on social media purports to show a Sudanese minister wearing a surgical mask to protect himself during a meeting with a Chinese diplomat. However, the image has been Photoshopped.

18 February 2020

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13. No confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded in Ethiopia (as of February 17, 2020)

Several posts alleging the novel coronavirus has been found in Ethiopia are circulating on Facebook. However, the claims are misleading; as of February 17, 2020, there were no confirmed cases in the country, and Ethiopia’s health authorities said that 17 suspected cases all tested negative.

17 February 2020

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12. Black people aren’t more resistant to novel coronavirus

(Scientists research the novel coronavirus in a laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal (Photo by Seyllou / AFP))

Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim that a Cameroonian man living in China was cured of the novel coronavirus “because he has black skin”. Although a Cameroonian student was successfully treated for the illness, a doctor from a research centre specialised in the novel coronavirus told AFP there was “no scientific evidence” to suggest black people have a better chance of fighting the virus.

12 February 2020

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11. Indian officials say novel coronavirus has not been found in poultry

A claim that novel coronavirus has been discovered in chicken raised for meat in Mumbai, India has been shared hundreds of times in multiple Facebook and Twitter posts. The claim is false; the Indian government’s Poultry Development Organization told AFP it was “absolutely wrong” and there is “no evidence” that novel coronavirus has been detected in poultry.

11 February 2020

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10. Hoax report claims China sought Supreme Court approval to euthanise 20,000 coronavirus patients

An article claiming the Chinese government has sought Supreme Court approval to authorise the killing of more than 20,000 novel coronavirus patients in an effort to curb the growing epidemic has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. The claim is false; the article was published on a site that has regularly produced hoax reports, and China has made no such announcement.

11 February 2020

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9. This viral video shows a high-school initiation in South Africa

A video shared thousands of times in several languages purports to show coronavirus patients in China. The claim is false; the people in the footage are South African students taking part in a high-school initiation.

7 February 2020

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8. This video shows workmen uncovering a bat-infested roof in the US state of Florida in 2011

A video showing scores of bats nesting under tiles of a roof has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook that it shows the cause of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in China. The claim is false; the video has circulated online since at least July 2011 and actually shows repairs being made to the roof of a bat-infested house in the city of Miami in the United States.

7 February 2020 

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7. This video shows Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting a mosque in China in 2016

A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, shared alongside a claim that it showsChinese President Xi Jinping praying at a mosque following the novel coronavirus outbreak.  The claim is false; this video has circulated since at least 2016 in media reports about his visit to a mosque in northwest China.

7 February 2020 

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6. Dettol’s manufacturer denied it tested its products on the novel strain of coronavirus

An image of a Dettol label that touts the disinfectant's ability to kill the coronavirus has been shared tens of thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts alongside a claim that the product’s maker may have been aware of the novel coronavirus before it broke out in China in December 2019. The claim is misleading; the cleaning product’s reference to “coronavirus” denotes its effectiveness in protecting people from a general group of viruses, including the common cold; Dettol’s manufacturer said it has not tested its products against the novel coronavirus.

6 February 2020

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5. Not only is the source of the virus unknown, but the dead cells inside rhino horn also are incapable of keeping it alive

Multiple posts shared hundreds of times on Facebook claim the novel coronavirus comes from the use of rhino horn. The claim is false because not only is the source of the crisis in China still unknown, but the dead tissue that rhino horn consists of also cannot sustain a virus, which needs living cells to replicate.

4 February 2020

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4. Health authorities did not say drinking water will prevent coronavirus

Facebook posts shared thousands of times in various countries claim that drinking water can prevent coronavirus. Many posts present the information as “health bulletins” from the officials in Canada or the Philippines. However, authorities have issued no such advice.

4 February 2020

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3. This is a 2014 photo of people participating in an art project in Frankfurt, Germany

A photo of people lying down on the ground has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook alongside a claim it shows people who died from the new coronavirus in China. The claim is false; the image shows people participating in an art project in 2014 to remember the victims of the Nazi's Katzbach concentration camp in Frankfurt.

3 February 2020

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2. Chinese authorities have not recorded 300,000 confirmed novel coronavirus cases; there is no precise figure available for overall infections (as of February 4, 2020)

A story that has been shared in multiple posts on Facebook in Nigeria claims that more than 300,000 Chinese people have been infected with the novel coronavirus. The claim is misleading: Chinese health authorities have recorded just over 20,400 confirmed cases as of February 4, 2020, and experts say that there is currently no precise figure available for overall infections. 

3 February 2020

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1. This video shows a market selling wild animals in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook that claim it shows a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where a new coronavirus strain emerged. The claim is false; the video shows a market in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.

27 January 2020

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AFP's fact-checks in French are available here